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‘Alohei’ Time

Posted on Jul 08 , 2012 in Blog & Ongoing

“Alohei,” the women said in unison, posing for the camera.

“Nani?” What, I asked.

It turned out what they were saying was “aloha.” This was at the end of our Aloha Minasan (Aloha Everyone) tea time event held at Grace Mission Tohoku Hope House in conjunction with missionaries affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church.

Stephanie, New Life’s hula dancer, was ailing badly with a sinus cold, so both Jennifer and I were quickly brainstorming alternatives to our advertised event (Hula Magic with Chuck? Cheerleading by Jennifer?) But fortunately for us and fortunately for the women and men at the tea time, Stephanie “gambatte” and made an appearance, doing hula dances to “I Can Imagine” and the Hukilau. We attempted to explain the general meaning to “I Can Imagine,” but I do believe that just the passion that Stephanie exhibited in her dance touched the women. Since the Hukilau was more participatory, everyone literally jumped in with both hips. I’ve found the women here especially uninhibited, ready to hang on my shoulder or playfully sock our arms. Since I’m a fan of dialect, one woman, Megumi, was reaching me Tohoku-ben and I loved the staccato sound of it.

Through our laughter and jokes, I caught snippets of sadness. One woman had lost her husband in the tsunami, another was dealing with the pressures of caring for ailing parents in a disaster area.

Opportunities to clearly testify to God’s love and even openly pray for some women have opened up. I think that in my case this hasn’t been just because I can speak conversational Japanese but because I am still deeply feeling the loss of my own beloved father. I believe that those of us who are “poor in spirit” instinctively know each other.

This trip has surpassed my expectations (it even hasn’t been that hot). We’ve had to deal with colds, injuries and rain, but we as a team have remained unified. I had to do things that I never desired to do – drive a van in Japan, sleep in a tent with fifteen other women, and perform the Hukilau in public. What I’ve learned from this trip is what has been said before – that it’s not a matter of how well we do things, but our willingness to do whatever is called for.

Thank you for your prayers. More is needed for those who are still sick like Stephanie. We look forward to Jim Kagawa and Chuck’s pharmacy associate joining and visiting the team.

In peace,
Naomi Fukuchi

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